iDnipro

White House Upbeat on Beijing Trade Talks

A top White House economic adviser is expressing confidence in the current U.S.-China trade negotiations in Beijing.

“The vibe in Beijing is good,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters Thursday at the White House. 

Kudlow provided few details but said the U.S. delegation led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is “covering all ground” ahead of their expected meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow.

“That’s a very good sign and they’re just soldiering on, so I like that story,” Kudlow said, “And I will stay with the phrase, the vibe is good.”

Negotiators are working to strike a deal by March 1, to avoid a rise in U.S. tariffs on $200 million worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. President Donald Trump suggested earlier this week that if talks are seeing signs of progress, that deadline could be pushed back.

When asked Thursday if there would be an extension, Kudlow said, “No such decision has been made so far.”

Analyst William Reinsch, a former president of the National Foreign Trade Council and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the talks are complicated by the three main areas under negotiation.

“Market access, which I think is well on the way to completion. Some Chinese offers on intellectual property, which I think they are not going to offer what we want. … And some compliance in enforcement matters,” he said.

Reinsch told VOA’s Mandarin service that U.S. negotiators are specifically seeking ways to hold China accountable for the commitments it makes in any deal.

Munich Security Conference

While American and Chinese negotiators continue talks in Beijing, both countries are setting up for another potential faceoff in Europe.

The U.S. and China are sending large delegations to Friday’s Munich Security Conference in Germany, a high-level conference on international security policy. Vice President Mike Pence leads the U.S. delegation while Politburo member Yang Jiechi will be the most senior Chinese official.

Yang Jiechi is heading the largest-ever Chinese delegation to the conference traditionally attended by the U.S. and its European allies. He is pushing back against Washington’s campaign pressing Europe to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from taking part in constructing 5G mobile networks in the region.

U.S. officials say allowing the Chinese company to build the next generation of wireless communications in Europe will enhance the Chinese government’s surveillance powers, threatening European security.

Although the technology behind 5G is complex, Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department, said the decisions for European countries is simple.

“Given the nature of modern telecommunication, countries do have to make a choice about whether or not they believe that Huawei, given its relationship, not an ownership relationship, with Chinese government, can be trusted to provide the backbone of their future telecommunication system.”

Both Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned allies in Poland and other Central European countries this week on the dangers of closer ties with Beijing and collaboration with Chinese firms. In Budapest, Hungary, on Monday, Pompeo said American companies might scale back European operations if countries continue to do business with Huawei.

Huawei has repeatedly denied its products could be used for espionage.

U.S. prosecutors have filed charges against Huawei, including bank fraud, violating sanctions against Iran, and stealing trade secrets. The company refuted these accusations and rejected charges against its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is currently on bail in Canada following her arrest in December.

This year’s Munich Security Conference topics include the “great power competition” between the United States, China and Russia. Conference organizers have listed U.S.-China tensions as one of their top 10 security issues of 2019.

VOA’s Mandarin Service reporter Jingxun Li contributed to this report.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

Міськрада Павлограда не виділила гроші на «комуналку» переселенцям з Донбасу

Жителі транзитного містечка для тимчасово переміщених осіб у Павлограді сплачуватимуть за проживання втричі більше через відсутність дотації з міського бюджету. Про це Радіо Свобода у четвер повідомив директор комунального підприємства «Павлограджитлосервіс», на балансі якого перебуває містечко, Євген Бондар.

За його словами, рішення сесії Павлоградської міськради передбачає виділення нинішнього року на містечко близько 656 тисяч гривень, які підуть на утримання адміністрації та персоналу. Водночас коштів на часткову компенсацію оплати житлово-комунальних послуг, спожитих мешканцями, не заплановано.

Як повідомив Євген Бондар, з 1 січня 2019 року кожен із жителів модульного містечка, за винятком дітей віком до 3 років, проживання яких все ж забезпечуватимуть з міського бюджету, має сплачувати по 1445 гривень на місяць.

«Депутати вивчали це питання. Усі переселенці отримують адресну допомогу на оплату комунальних послуг у розмірі 1 тисячі гривень. Усі отримують, однак не всі оплачують», – сказав Євген Бондар.

Як зауважив керівник підприємства, після зростання оплати за проживання в січні нинішнього року 33 переселенці виїхали з містечка, не здійснивши оплату, збитки підприємства через це склали 22 тисячі гривень. Ще частина мешканців здійснила оплату за старими тарифами.

«Найстрашніше, що ми маємо здійснити передоплату за електроенергію для будиночків, згідно з новим законом, а у нас немає такої можливості. Ймовірно, найближчим часом «Обленерго» відключить містечко від електроенергії, постраждають як боржники, так і сумлінніплатники», – зазначив директор підприємства.

За його даними, зараз у модульному містечку Павлограда мешкає 261 людина, з яких понад півсотні дітей.

У січні 2019 року стало відомо, що в містечку для переселенців у Павлограді втричі підвищили плату за проживання. Минулого року тариф складав 550 гривень намісять з однієї людини, а в момент відкриття містечка чотири роки тому – 150 гривень. Це викликало обурення мешканців, які заявили, що проживання в модулях стає недоступним, особливо для родин з дітьми. За інформацією право захисниці ГО «Правозахисна група «Січ» Наталії Кожиної, переселенці не були поінформовані ані про відповідне рішення міськради, ані про його обґрунтування.

На Дніпропетровщині за підтримки німецької сторони було створено 5 модульних містечок для переселенців, зокрема, і найбільше в Україні транзитне містечко в Павлограді, відкрите в лютому 2015 року.  Воно розраховане на 640 людей.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

Amazon Ditches New York Headquarters

Amazon will not be building a new headquarters in New York, a stunning reversal after a yearlong search.

The online retailer faced opposition from some New York politicians, who were unhappy with the nearly $3 billion in tax incentives Amazon was promised. The Seattle-based Amazon had planned to bring 25,000 jobs to New York, and spend $2.5 billion building its offices.

 

“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York,” the company said in a blog post, adding that it has 5,000 workers in the city and plans to grow those teams.

 

Amazon said Thursday it does not plan to look for another location at this time, and will continue to build out offices in Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee.

 

 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

Україна торік позичила понад 286 мільярдів гривень – Мінфін

Міністерство фінансів України повідомило, що залучило торік державних запозичень для фінансування бюджетного дефіциту на суму близько 286,5 мільярда в гривневому еквіваленті.

«Що це означає, у тому числі, що зовнішні запозичення склали 112,3 мільярда гривень, внутрішні – 174,2 мільярда гривень», – йдеться в повідомленні.

У відомстві нагадали, якою була структура зовнішніх запозичень у 2018-му, а це 725 мільйонів доларів від розміщення короткострокових єврооблігацій, 2 мільярди доларів – довгострокових єврооблігацій, 500 мільйонів євро в рамках четвертої програми макрофінансової допомоги від Євросоюзу і 349 мільйонів євро кредиту під гарантії Світового банку.

Раніше в Кабміні заявляли, що попередники нинішньої уряду заборгували кредиторам бюджет України на 2019 рік. Як повідомляв прем’єр-міністр Володимир Гройсман, українська влада від 2005 до 2013 року позичила за кордоном і всередині країни 50 мільярдів доларів, що приблизно дорівнює кошторису-2019.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

НБУ: торік з України за кордон переказали майже 300 мільйонів доларів, понад третину – до Росії

У 2018 році з використанням систем переказу коштів за межі України відправили 294 мільйони доларів, 36% – до Росії. Як йдеться у повідомленні Національного банку України, ці дані не включають інформацію про перекази, здійснені через банки, карткові платіжні системи та поштові відділення.

«Упродовж 2018 року сума коштів, отриманих в Україні з використанням міжнародних систем переказу коштів, у вісім разів перевищує суму коштів, відправлених за її межі», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Крім того, за даними НБУ, обсяг внутрішньодержавних операцій через системи переказу коштів торік зріс майже на чверть.

7 лютого 2019 року в Україні вступив у дію закон «Про валюту та валютні операції», що має зняти низку суттєвих обмежень на валютному ринку. Серед новацій – скасовується валютний нагляд для експортно-імпортних операцій на суму до 150 тисяч гривень, також особа чи компанія можуть вільно проводити операції з валютою, не перевищуючи свій ліміт.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

Google to Invest $13 Billion in New US Offices, Data Centers

Google plans to invest more than $13 billion this year on new and expanded data centers and offices across the U.S.

CEO Sundar Pichai announced the news in a blog post Wednesday , emphasizing the company’s growth outside its Mountain View, California, home and across the Midwest and South.

“2019 marks the second year in a row we’ll be growing faster outside of the (San Francisco) Bay Area than in it,” he wrote.

Google will build new data centers in Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia. Pichai estimated the construction of the new centers will employ 10,000 workers.

It makes good political sense for Google to highlight its expansions outside coastal cities, said CFRA Research analyst Scott Kessler. 

U.S. legislators have paid increasing attention to Google and other big tech companies in the past year, and are considering passing privacy laws to regulate the companies’ reach. Investing more widely across the U.S. could help it curry favor with federal politicians and officials, he said.

Google is focused on expanding its cloud-computing business, a market where it faces stiff competition from larger rivals Amazon and Microsoft.

The company will have a physical presence in 24 states by the end of the year. It currently has locations in 21 states, and is expanding into Nevada, Ohio and Nebraska.

Its expansion is likely also a way to attract new employees, Kessler said. Google will add an office in Georgia, and expand its offices in several cities including in Seattle and Chicago.

Google said it spent more than $9 billion on similar expansions across the country last year. 

Google did not give an exact number of employees it expects to hire as a result of the 2019 expansions, but said it would be “tens of thousands” of full-time workers.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

US Taxpayers Face Bitter Surprise After Trump’s Tax Cuts

Some taxpayers are getting a bitter surprise this year as their usual annual tax refunds have shrunk — or turned into tax bills — even though President Donald Trump loudly promised them largest tax cut “in American history.”

And with tax season under way, thousands of unhappy taxpayers have been venting their displeasure on Twitter, using hashtags like #GOPTaxscam, and some threatened not to vote for Trump again.

“Lowest refund I have ever had and I am 50 yrs old. No wall and now this tax reform sucks too!!” a woman going by “Speziale-Matheny” wrote from the crucial political swing state of Florida. “Starting to doubt Trump. I voted for him and trusted him too.”

During the year, American wage earners see a portion of each paycheck withheld as income tax, and many then receive a refund the following year if they have overpaid the federal government. That cash boost is eagerly awaited each year, and used to help pay off debt or make large purchases.

But the 2017 tax overhaul — which Republicans promoted as a boon to the middle class — meant many workers paid less in taxes during the year reducing the amount withheld, a change which may have gone unnoticed.

And the reform also cut some popular deductions, sometimes resulting in thinner refunds or even unexpected tax bills.

Early data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show that refunds so far this year are 8.4 percent lower than 2018 payouts on average, falling to $1,865 from $2,035.

However, many millions more taxpayers will be filing tax returns by the annual April 15 deadline, meaning this figure could change.

Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy under former President Barack Obama, told AFP the negative reaction was “understandable.”

“People focused on the amount of the refund but that’s not the same as their tax liability, the amount of tax they pay for the year,” he said.

Because of lower withholding during the year, some taxpayers have in effect already seen the benefit of the tax cut in their higher paychecks, said Mazur, who is vice president at the Urban Institute.

About five percent of taxpayers — 7.5 million people — will in fact see a tax increase, while about 80 percent should pay less, he said.

‘Angry, disappointed and betrayed’

The IRS on Wednesday said taxpayers who suddenly found they owe taxes could pay their bill in installments and apply for a waiver of penalties normally imposed for failing to pay by the deadline.

“The IRS understands there were many changes that affected people last year, and the new penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently had too little tax withheld,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

A key change of the 2017 tax reform is it limited federal deductions for certain state and local taxes like real estate taxes. As a result, many homeowners in states with higher property taxes will owe more to the federal government.

Neil Frankel, a New York accountant, told AFP people were feeling “angry, disappointed and betrayed.”

“I sympathize with them. The new tax law’s withholding tables were incorrect and misleading. A complete shenanigan,” he added.

“Since my clients are mostly professionals, I don’t really hear any screaming,” he said. “However, I do hear long diatribes on hatred for the U.S. government.”

Last year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin invited taxpayers to use an online calculator to estimate their tax payments, to determine if they should modify their withholding amount.

‘Misleading’ reports

This week, the Treasury Department said media reports on the lower refunds were “misleading.”

“Refunds are consistent with 2017 levels and down slightly from 2018 based on a small, initial sample from only a few days of data,” the department said on Twitter.

But, Mazur said, perception is key: When the administration of former President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, it mailed out checks directly.

“Taxpayers remembered that they got that check,” he said.

Under Obama, however, a tax cut showed up as smaller withholdings and fatter checks during each pay cycle.

“Most Americans when they were surveyed didn’t think they got a tax cut from Obama,” he said.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!
iDnipro

China’s Huawei Soft Power Push Raises Hard Questions

As a nasty diplomatic feud deepens between the two countries over the tech company, involving arrests and execution orders, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Huawei’s bright red fan-shaped logo is plastered prominently on the set of “Hockey Night in Canada.” TV hosts regularly remind the 1.8 million weekly viewers that program segments are “presented by Huawei smartphones.”

The cheery corporate message contrasts with the standoff over the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant. In what looks like retaliation, China detained two Canadians and plans to execute a third — heavy-handed tactics that, because they leave some Canadians with the impression the privately owned company is an arm of the Chinese government, give its sponsorship a surreal quality.

The TV deal is one of many examples of how Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom gear producer and one of the top smartphone makers, has embarked on a global push to win consumers and burnish its brand. It sponsors Australian rugby, funds research at universities around the world, and brings foreign students to China for technical training. It has promoted classical music concerts in Europe and donated pianos to New Zealand schools .

Its efforts are now threatened by the dispute with Canada and U.S. accusations that it could help China’s authoritarian government spy on people around the world.

“Huawei’s marketing plan up until Dec. 1 (when Meng was arrested) was working very well,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China. Now, “public opinion is changing toward China and Huawei.”

At stake for Huawei are lucrative contracts to provide new superfast mobile networks called 5G. The U.S. says Meng helped break sanctions and accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets. It also says the company could let the Chinese government tap its networks, which in the case of 5G would cover massive amounts of consumer data worldwide. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed that point to European allies on a tour this week.

Huawei, which did not respond to requests for comment for this story, has previously rejected the allegations. The Chinese government says Huawei’s critics were fabricating threats.

Still, the headlines have been relentlessly negative.

“At some point there could be a majority of Canadians that will say `We don’t think the government should do business with Huawei,”’ said Saint-Jacques.

There’s no evidence of sinister intentions behind Huawei’s marketing, which isn’t unlike that of Western multinationals, although its efforts have been unusually strong for a company from China, where brands have struggled to capture global attention.

Rogers Communications, which broadcasts “Hockey in Night in Canada” and also sells Huawei smartphones, said it has no plans to change its sponsorship deal, which started in 2017 and runs to the end of 2020.

In Australia, the Canberra Raiders rugby team indicated it would renew a Huawei sponsorship deal this year despite a government ban on using its equipment in 5G networks.

Huawei has also ventured into high culture by using its smartphone artificial intelligence to complete the remaining movements in German composer Franz Schubert’s “Symphony No. 8,” known as the “Unfinished Symphony.” It held a symphony orchestra concert in London this month to perform the completed score.

And Huawei has a vast network of relationships with universities around the world through research partnerships and scholarships. It has helped fund a 25 million pound ($32 million) joint research project at Britain’s Cambridge University.

Some universities have begun to rethink their collaborations, although there’s no allegation of wrongdoing by Huawei. Universities point out that companies that fund research don’t automatically own any resulting patents.

Britain’s Oxford University stopped accepting Huawei’s money last month. Stanford University followed suit after U.S. prosecutors unsealed nearly two dozen charges against the company, as did the University of California at Berkeley, which also removed an off-campus videoconferencing set-up donated by Huawei based on guidance from the Department of Defense.

Faced with these setbacks, Huawei has responded by stepping up its public relations efforts.

Its normally reclusive chairman, Ren Zhengfei, last month held three media briefings, fielding questions from Western, Japanese and Chinese journalists.

The company will be out in force this month at the Mobile World Congress, a major telecom industry gathering in Barcelona, Spain. It’s expected to unveil its latest smartphone, a 5G device with a folding screen. Company executives are scheduled to brief analysts and give presentations on 5G technology.

Huawei is a corporate sponsor of the show and Ren is expected to attend to help win business deals, though U.S. officials are reportedly expected to turn out in force to lobby against Huawei.

The company last week hosted a Lunar New Year reception in Brussels for the European Union diplomatic community, in a ballroom commissioned by Belgium’s King Leopold II. There was a piano concert, a jazz performance, a bubble tea bar, and a speech by Huawei’s chief EU representative, Abraham Liu.

“We are shocked or sometimes feel amused by those ungrounded and senseless allegations,” Liu told the reception guests, adding that the company is “willing to accept the supervision” from governments in Europe, Huawei’s biggest market after China. Huawei plans to open a cybersecurity center in Brussels next month, he said.

To attract top talent, Huawei runs a program called “Seeds for the Future,” under which it sends students from more than 100 countries to China to study Mandarin and get technical training at its headquarters.

Shanthi Kalathil, director of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, sees Huawei’s charm offensive dovetailing with broader efforts by China to influence the global debate on the government’s surveillance and censorship it uses.

“It’s not like an afterthought. That is the foundation of the entire system,” she said.

Whether or not Huawei is linked to the Chinese government or merely defended as a corporate champion, the fight over the company shows how world powers see technology as the front line in the fight for economic supremacy.

“Today’s innovation economy is based on IP (intellectual property) and data,” said Jim Balsillie, the former chairman and co-CEO of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion. “So soft power is the best tool for advancing national interests because the battle is not about armies and tanks.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!